In Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls, Lia, an anorexic and cutter, learns that her estranged friend Cassie was found dead in a motel room — after leaving Lia thirty-three messages. Cassie’s death tips the already fragile Lia into a vortex of self-destruction. Anderson conveys Lia’s illness vividly through her dark, fantastic thoughts. This stream-of-consciousness, first-person, present-tense work is tangled and illuminating. (Viking, 2009)
Meghan Ball, protagonist of Madeleine George’s Looks, is the fat girl nobody notices. She’s hyper-aware, a keen observer of her classmates. Too-skinny Aimee Zorn is a talented poet who’s seriously anorexic. After learning that Meghan’s ex-friend plagiarized one of Aimee’s poems, the two plan the girl’s comeuppance. George’s writing is sharp and insightful, and her treatment of eating disorders never devolves into sermonizing or stereotypes. (Viking, 2008)
The narrator of Lois Metzger’s startlingly original novel A Trick of the Light is a voice inside fifteen-year-old Mike Welles’s head. At first, the voice seems to be on Mike’s side, but then it tells Mike to lie (to doctors, parents, teachers), turns him toward self-destructive behaviors — and pushes him to starve himself. The narrative voice — Mike’s eating disorder, personified — is the star of this masterfully written novel. (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, 2013)
Fourteen well-known authors — from size “XS” Margo Rabb to “XXXL” Daniel Pinkwater — explore attitudes and societal expectations about body image in the short stories and real-life anecdotes of Does This Book Make Me Look Fat? (ed. by Marissa Walsh). Their personal reflections are especially affecting. A message of self-acceptance is clear throughout, perhaps inspiring teens to feel more secure about their looks. Recommendations for love-yourself movies, songs, books, and websites are appended. (Clarion, 2008)
Reviews are from The Horn Book Guide.